OUGD401 - A Brief History of...

When we received our brief to create a publication which combined theory and practice, we were told to centre it around something we learned in our contextual lecture program.

Straight away I chose type because I wanted to both learn more about it and it was something I was thoroughly interested in. As soon as I had a focused direction I began my interest for my project: A Brief History of Type.

I scoured the internet in search for interesting details and historical events/dates/typographers for use in my body content and found several pages filled with information which would benefit the production of my publication. After reading them all, I printed off the ones I found interesting and useful and put it aside to dissect later. I have put links below of the websites I found useful.

A brief history of type 1 -

A brief history of type 2 -

A brief history of type 3 -

A brief history of type 4 -

A brief history of type 5 -

Type history -

Illustrated timeline -

Information on Hermann Berthold -

Information on the Hermann Berthold type foundry  -

Information on the creators of Helvetica -

After getting inspired with all the information I was digesting, I had an idea. I wondered why some people are interested in type but don't really look into it, if it was effort or just being busy. I wanted to produce something that would both inspire and educate the lazy or uninformed designer of the history of type, the methods of printing and everything about it, but make it more interactive so people would be more interested in learning more and playing with type.

My idea for this brief was to develop an interactive and well designed publication educating and inspiring young designers with a combination of contextual theory and practice. This would be presented as a packet, containing a folder which folds out to contain a informative publication and a test/quiz book on the other side to test people's own knowledge after reading the book. Included in the packet I'd have some grid paper and a pencil to encourage the practice of type straight away. This would be presented in a brown paper bag clipped together for a professional and hand made aesthetic.

After sketching it all out and letting it come together in my mind, I needed to make sure I could produce it all to plan in regards to print and money.


First was the brown paper bag so I had a look online to see where I could source it from. 

I found a suitable bag size which was 10" by 14" - this would be big enough to hold A4 content which would be what I was after, however I wasn't too keen on buying 1000 of them so I kept looking.
I found the exact same ones on amazon and the minimum quantity was 100, this was a lot better but still far more than I needed but this looked like the suitable solution:
After spending a bit too much time searching, I couldn't find anything in Leeds of a smaller quantity so I decided to go with the Amazon purchase if the rest of the idea panned out. The qualities of this bag were the following:

  • 100% recycable and 100% biodegradeable
  • Bags are suitable for food use
  • Bags are made from a strong 37 GSM Brown Kraft Paper
  • These bags are most commonly used in gift stores, retail shops , grocery stores, off-licences and the catering trade!!!
  • DIMENIONS - 10 inch x 14 inch

For the fold out pack, I would want it to be a thick and durable card which would keep shape, it would also need to be at a suitable dimension to work with. I had a look in the library shop and found some that would do the job absolutely fine.

For the informative booklet, I would have two stocks, one for the cover and one for the leaves of the book. The cover would have to be quite thick and the inside pages would be light and thin but that would have to be looked into further when researching how to make the publication.

I want the quiz book to represent the sort you'd find alongside a newspaper so the stock of that would be generic news print, this would give a nice texture for the audience to involve themselves in.

Finally for the graph paper, this would either just be stock graph paper which I can print personal branding on, or I will just print the graph lines myself onto a thin drawing paper.

Now all of that was sourced, I needed to work out the dimensions and scales of my mediums so it can be bought, designed and produced. I set up this diagram to help me work out scales and display the units.

The next part of my planning stages will be working out the layout for my folder so it can be easily cut and made. I have already worked out what size I want the front face to be, but now the shape and sizing for the rest needs to be worked out and designed up ready for print and build.

I opened up photoshop to start guiding out the dimensions and worked them out exactly to the mm.

As soon as the shape and measurements were created, I used the pen tool to make a lined out guide for cutting purposes.

After that was finished, I downsized it to A4 and printed it out to make sure the proportions were right and that there were no design flaws in my publication folder.

Everything fitted perfectly and had a good amount of space for the content to put within it. A good thing about this packaging is the spine and edges can be enlarged and reduced depending on the thickness of my content. This will make amendments easy and doable. 

Now the folder for the contents were planned out, I needed to decide on aesthetics of my publication. It needed to reflect the subject I was covering as both the practice and theory needed to interconnect.

I decided screen-printing the cover and paper bag would be best because that would involve the print aspects of the publication and also give a more vintage/handmade feel to it but staying in tact with professionalism.

I ordered the bags to have them ready to print on after the final crit.

After that i got on with developing the branding of my publication so that design was consistent throughout my work.

I had an idea of mixing letterforms up with the word type to represent what I was talking about but titling the top of it with a consistent font which would be used for headers throughout the publication. This was my development.

Finished logo:

When the paper bags arrived I took a photo of it face down on my desk to create some mockups and visualise where I wanted my screen print to go.

I tried a variety of different positions and two sizes. After looking at all of them I was torn between getting it printed large and top central or bottom left and in a smaller size. I asked some friends what they thought and they said that it was easier to appreciate the aesthetics of the logo when it was bigger so I went with that option.

Next I wanted to design and make the graph paper I would include within the publication, to begin with I made all of the boxed line guides which appears on most graph paper.

After that, I made added lines and guides with names to help with the development of peoples type work whilst keeping them all in line and in proportions.

These lines were then lowered in opacity to blend into the page as well as placement of the logo in the top left and description on top right with a name line below it.

I printed it out and tested it out and everything worked perfectly.

I got on with the body copy of my informative publication with the hep from the sources i found online. I created my own content with the help of facts I found about the following subjects.

­A Brief History Of Type.


     1.   Introduction.
What is type and why on earth do I want to read about it?

     2.   Where did it come from?
Hairy people in caves of course!

 3. The beginning of moveable type and printing.
How it all made life get a little easier.

     4.   The anatomy of type.
All the bits and pieces that you didn’t know about.

     5.   The big names in type.
All those names that you have probably heard but thought each were a modern furniture range in IKEA or a cultural dish.

  1.            Introduction.

What is type and why on earth do I want to read about it?

Firstly, you must have some sort of interest in type if you even picked this up and opened it so there’s your first reason. The second is the fact you have started to read, either as a security of self-reassurance that you are interested in type, or you have a spare five minutes whilst sat on the toilet and you thought “Might as well.”

Personally I hope it is the first one. But if it is the second one then I hope you get into it, so much that you forget that you are sat on the bog and in twenty minutes or so, you suddenly remember where you are and the realization hits you that you have an intense passion for the art of typography and you walk out of that bathroom feeling like the next Gutenberg.

What? You don’t know who Gutenberg is?
Okay, let’s get the ball rolling.

If you look up the word type in the Oxford Dictionary, you will find this:

    1a category of people or things having common characteristics:this type of heather grows better in a drier habitat
blood types

    [with adjective or noun modifier] informal a person of a specified character or nature:two sporty types in tracksuits

(one's type) informal the sort of person one likes or finds attractive:she’s not really my type

That’s a different kind of type, we don’t care about that. The one we are looking for is this one:

    3 [mass noun] characters or letters that are printed or shown on a screen:bold type

    [count noun] a piece of metal with a raised letter or character on its upper surface, for use in letterpress printing.
metal types used in letterpress printing:the first European printing of books began in 1454 with the invention of movable type

2. Where did it come from?

Hairy people in caves of course!

We are all pretty accustomed to letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, etc as a primary form of communication. Like anything, they have origins and beginnings. The modern alphabet started as very simple symbols identifying words or meanings.

As you probably guessed, the first records for these drawings date back as far as 20,000 BC when the closest you could get to a gentleman was a different specie altogether. A good 17,000 years later written communication was starting to develop thoroughly by the Sumerians. This written communication was purely based of simple drawings called pictograms, which told stories and kept records.

Humanity and civilization got more and more advanced over time, slowly but surely. But more complicated concepts needed to be communicated across societies as people got smarter. In Egypt, hieroglyphics were developed, and symbols expressing thoughts or ideas called ideograms were incorporated within them. This allowed a more advanced representation of images and pushed communication a lot further than just the literal pictograms. A good example of ideograms would be the Roman numerals we use today, where I, II, III represents fingers on one’s hand, V is an open hand and VI one open hand as well as an additional finger.

You are probably sat there thinking, “yeah that’s great, Egyptians and other ancient civilizations drew pictures to communicate, everyone knows that. Get on with it”

If so, then chill out as this is just an introduction to lead you to the development of THE ALPHABET!

FUN FACT The word “alphabet” comes from the first two Greek letters alpha and beta.

It was the Phoenicians who are known to of developed the first full alphabet – a group of symbols to represent spoken sounds which combined, represent a spoken language. Luckily for us, they were a bunch of merchants who traded through a variety of different cultures spreading their alphabetic knowledge with the rest of the Western civilization. Smarter people in Greece then developed the alphabet further to adapt the art of handwriting in several styles.

A few hundred years down the line we can find the Romans using the Greek alphabet as a foundation for the uppercase alphabet that we use today.

3. The beginning of moveable type and printing.

How it made life get a little easier.

Now you know the ins and outs of the development of the alphabet and how it all came about, I am going to tell you about the second course of development over the course of the next one thousand years and then the fifteenth century onwards.

Manuscript preparation became a very specialized, highly looked at craft and became a main practice in most monasteries. Books became items of huge value in society and contained immaculate ornamentation. Illustrated initials were carefully and beautifully designed and complemented with hand rendered body copy. With such delicacy of a practice, it wasn’t uncommon for a monk to devote an entire lifetime to completing a single manuscript.

When the fifteenth century came about, written communication developed at a drastic scale and changed the whole way people saw it as well as the culture around it. At this moment in time, only the privileged few had access to the written word as less than a tenth of the European population could read.

In Mainz, Germany halfway through the 15th century, a man named Johann Gutenberg changed the whole direction of the written word.

He is often renown for the invention of the printing press and metal type however he did neither. Printing had already been practiced in Mainland China for several hundred years and few decades in Europe too. What Gutenberg did succeed in was making these technologies practical.

Gutenberg perfected an efficient and workable system of moveable type, creating a process involving separate type molds for each glyph where metal pieces of type could be cast in high quantities. These metal pieces could then be arranged into a page of text and printed onto paper with ink and a printing press of his own design and structure. For the first time, an efficient system of mass production of print was developed for publishing.

This had such a massive impact on Europe, in the next 50 years an explosion of more than 10 million publications were printed of nearly 3500 different works which were widely distributed throughout the Western world. Social and technical knowledge was shared and education of the masses began.

4. The anatomy of type.
All the bits and pieces you didn’t know about.

Like pretty much everything, type has elements that it is built from. To make full use of typography and be a master in progress at the art of type you are going to have to learn the bits and pieces which type is made of.

The first things you are going to hear about are the invisible lines and grids that keep everything in place and are used to keep spaces, proportions and sizes accurate.

The baseline is the first invisible line on which a letter is suspended. Above that, you have the mean line; this is running along the top of non-ascending lowercase letters. Next up is the cap line, which marks the height of uppercase letters in a font. A very small space above that is the ascender line, which speaks for itself really and marks the height of ascenders within a font. The highest line is the ascent line; this marks the furthest distance between the baseline and the top of a glyph.

Apart from those ones there are two other invisible lines that are found below the baseline, these are the descender line and the descent line. The descender line is a guide marking the lowest point a descender can be within a font. And finally, the descent line is the lowest line that marks the furthest distance between the baseline and the bottom of the glyph.

That was a lot of invisible lines you need to remember, but they are there to make your life as a designer easier. If you didn’t have all of those lines as guides for you then any typeface you made would be all jagged and unbalanced.

Apart from all of the invisible lines that keep everything in place for you, typography is similar to an artistic game of operation consisting of a variety of different parts of a letterform which can be played with to create new fonts. The variety of these parts is very extensive but the more you know, the better!

Because of the amount of different pieces there are I will only highlight a couple of the most important ones here, the rest can be found in a guide at the back of this book.

The bowl is the curved part of the letterform that encloses the circular or curved part of some letters. Some people call any part of a letter that encloses a space a bowl, such as the curved strokes of a C.

The counter is the enclosed or partially enclosed curved or circular negative space of some letters such as o, and d. The shape and size of the counter and bowl can affect readability and is also an identifying factor for some typefaces.

5. The big names in type.
All those names that you have probably heard but thought each were a modern furniture range in IKEA or a cultural dish.

Johannes Gutenberg.

Johannes Gutenberg (1395-1468) was a man of many crafts. He worked as a goldsmith, blacksmith, publisher and printer and above all was the man to introduce Europe to a new best friend, printing. This man’s invention of mechanical movable type printing began in the Printing Revolution and is often thought of as the most important event of the modern world.

You wouldn’t of thought printing would have such an effect on the Western world, but think again. This invention played a huge role in the development of the Renaissance, Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment, and the Scientific Revolution. It also laid the foundations for the modern knowledge-based economy and the spread of learning to societies everywhere.

In 1439, Gutenberg was the first person in the western world to use movable type printing. He contributed an enormous amount to the development of printing including the invention of a process for movable type; the use of oil-based ink; the invention and use of a wooden printing press, which similarly resembled an agricultural screw press. The combinations of all these developments lead to the first practical and efficient system of mass-production of books and publications alike.

Nicolas Jenson.

Nicolas Jenson (1420-1480), based in Venice was yet another multi-skilled craftsman taking experience and practice in engraving, printing and type designing. Jenson is accredited with being the creator of the first model roman type, and therefore, being an iconic figure in the history of type. Idolized by students during the early printing years, Jenson was praised on the beauty and perfection of his roman font by William Morris, artist of the 19th century.

Jenson’s highly legible and evenly coloured typeface was based mainly on Humanistic scripts and has been re-designed and reinterpreted by numerous type designers throughout the ages.

Giambattista Bodoni.

Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813) a typographer, compositor, printer and publisher based in Parma, Italy. Bodoni developed and evolved a style of type called ‘New Face’ along with Firmin Didot, another typographer.

The classification of ‘New Face’ involved letters which were cut in such a way to produce a contrast between the thick and thin parts of their body. He developed many typefaces with an extensive range of sizes. His compositions were admired due to best subtlety of spacing anyone had seen before. Very similar to Baskerville, he set off his texts with wide margins and used little or no illustrations or decorative forms on his pages.

Revivals and remakes of his typefaces are often used as display fonts such as the ones you will see in fashion magazines. These are all named Bodoni.

Hermann Berthold.

Hermann Berthold (1831-1904) was the son of a calico-printer. He was a very clever man who founded his “Institute for Galvano Technology” in Berlin in 1858. He discovered many interesting things at his institute including a method of producing circular lines from brass, lead and zinc. They produced outstandingly fine results and built up an admirable reputation. Most of Germany’s letterpress printers as well as ones from abroad placed orders with Berthold.

Whilst typesetting was happening all around Berthold, he developed high quality typefaces. The most iconic of all of them being Akzidenz Grotesk (1896) known as the mother of all sans serif typefaces.
Max Miedinger (1910-1980) and Eduard Hoffman (1892-1980) were the fathers of the most popular typeface to date, Helvetica.

Max Miedinger was urged by his father to complete an apprenticeship in typesetting shortly after finishing school. For six years he worked as a typesetter for a variation of companies whilst taking evening classes at an art school in Zurich. He then worked as a typographer in an advertising department until he found himself at Haas Typefoundry in M√ľnchenstein as a salesman. Moving towards graphic design, Miedinger moved back to Zulrich and was later contacted by the head of the Haas Typefoundry, Eduard Hoffman.

He was commissioned to design a new sans serif typeface, the Neue Haas Grotesk. In 1960, this typeface was then renamed Helvetica and marketed as a symbol of cutting edge Swiss technology to the world.

 This came to 2318 words which was enough to create my spreads. This was when I began making thumbnail designs for my layouts.


I began the illustrations for my book and made sure they were the right size for the sections of the page I was putting them in. Each were relevant to the section I was illustrating for.

After all of the illustrations were finished, I started creating my chosen layout designs in illustrator to ready it for my publication.

This consisted of a chapter page, and a 

After finishing the layout designs and everything for my informative publication I began my crossword for the quiz book.

I went to screen print on the last Tuesday before hand in to finish the paper bag, folder and book covers. I have never screen printed before so I was both excited and nervous about screwing it up.

Basically I over coated the screen with the emulsion and it took three times as long to dry, and also dried in heaps in some sections, these lumps washed out when cleaning the screen out so I had to mask over the gaps.

This took a fair while and by the time it was ready to print, I had 20 minutes before I had to pack up, so I decided to print the folder and then do all of the black printing the next morning bright and early.

Below is a photo of the test print to make sure my ink had enough medium in it, luckily I got it right the first time.

After I washed it down, I printed the folder section. I had made two folders but not yet bound it together so it was easy to print.

Sadly, because the screen bed lifted very low, it was very difficult to tell where to position the folder, one of my folders was perfectly centred but stuck to the screen and it tore a section of the front off. The second was wonky.

Instead of starting again the next day and having to spend the night making more folders, I realised I could use the torn one to my advantage. The aesthetics are very hand made and textured so I made it work in my favour by using a scalpel and sticky tape to scratch and tear the front off and make it look more worn. By the time I was finished it looked a million times better than if it never happened! (happy mistake).

I bound the inside by using spray-mount on the side flaps to stick it all together, I used this because it is strong and not visible. I used pieces of paper to shield the rest of the folder.

For the rest of the quiz book after the word search I made a design sheet to document all my ideas. More ideas I had were a dot-to-dot, a word search, a maze, and a guess the font game.

I was very worried about the amount of time I had left to produce the content of the quiz book and personally I wasn't too bothered about the actual games as they didn't show my understanding of contextual theory.

Most of the quiz book was designed and made myself which included the cross-word, the word search, the dot-to-dot and the guess the font game.

For the maze, I wanted it to be a humorous/extremely difficult one as it's not meant for children so I searched for one on google to use instead of one I made myself. I found the one I have linked below and edited it to my own use so I could squeeze it into the time I had. The only reason I did this is because I couldn't design one this difficult in the time I had.

Maze - 

After this was done all the printing was sorted and I bound the book.

One thing I noticed after reading the book was I mentioned a poster I was going to be making, inside the publication itself. After reading it, I had two choices, remove that part and reprint and bind the book, or sort out a poster and increase the body of work I have to submit.

For the poster I wanted to present type anatomy so the directed student could put it up in their room for reference. When researching type anatomy previously for my informative publication, one of my sources of information was Typography Deconstructed. I saw a poster on there which had pretty much exactly what I needed/wanted in my poster to compliment my work, as that is the sort of thing that would be made for it.

All I have done is taken the information from this poster and changed the layout and branding to suit my project. The real poster can be found here and bought, but this is my interpretation of the poster.

Below are the photos of the finished work.


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